Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

The facade of Collegetown Bagels on May 21. In phase two, restaurants are still limited to takeout and delivery services.

May 29, 2020

Cuomo Clears Ithaca, Southern Tier for Phase Two Reopening

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New York’s Southern Tier region –– which includes Ithaca –– can immediately begin phase two reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced Friday afternoon at a news conference.

This comes after several reports Thursday that a phase two reopening would not occur Friday in the Southern Tier.

Speaking from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York,  Cuomo cleared five regions –– all in upstate New York –– to enter phase two: North Country, the Finger Lakes, Central New York, the Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier.

“People have been smart, and you haven’t seen the spike,” Cuomo added, referring to upticks in COVID-19 cases in other nations that opened prematurely.

In phase two, barbershops and hair salons, office buildings and retail stores can reopen with a slew of precautionary restrictions, according to the New York Forward website.

Hair salons, for example, may only operate at 50 percent capacity, and their employees must be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. All customers must have appointments and a log of visitors must be maintained in case contract tracing is necessary.

Cuomo’s plan to reopen the state is composed of four phases. Phase one’s impacts were to be evaluated after two weeks. Regions could then move into phase two if they met certain metrics. These metrics included a low infection rate, a capacity-ready health care system, and high levels of testing and contact tracing.

Southern Tier entered phase one of reopening two weeks ago on May 15.

Cuomo, in a Thursday evening radio interview with WAMC in Albany, hesitated on announcing a phase two reopening for any New York State regions, stating that data experts would make the call after reviewing the five regions’ progress.

“When the reopening ends, we give them the data, it’s posted on the web. We let them analyze it. If they say we move forward, we move forward,” Cuomo said.

In announcing phase two at his Friday news conference, Cuomo explained that the data was “reviewed at every level; all the local officials sign off, the regional officials sign off, the best state experts.”

In this next chapter, restaurants will still only be allowed to offer take-out and delivery service. Likewise, face masks and social distancing requirements are maintained.